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Kingdom can’t open market to banned goods
Riyadh 22nd April 2001

  Saudi Arabia, striving to join the World Trade Organization, urged Europe yesterday to understand its special position of being an Islamic country which implements the Shariah, or Islamic law, a government statement said.

 The call came during a meeting here between Minister of Commerce Osama Faqeeh and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy as part of the Kingdom’s negotiations with other countries over its WTO membership.

 The minister wanted the EU to “understand the unique position of the Kingdom ... which is proud of implementing the Shariah, and that of the conservative nature of the Saudi society”, a statement by the Commerce Ministry said.

 The minister also noted that Saudi Arabia could not open its markets to products prohibited by Islam.

 Europe is Saudi Arabia’s biggest trading partner with the trade volume between the two sides hitting SR66 billion ($17.6 billion) last year, Faqeeh said.

 Technical teams from both sides discussed in Riyadh during the past two days a number of issues relating to WTO. Lamy also met with Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi and discussed with him the stability of the world oil market and Saudi membership in the WTO. The Kingdom has been striving for years to gain membership to the trade body, which it sees as vital to diversifying its energy-led economy. The Kingdom has blamed its delay in entry into the WTO on unclear and inflexible trade rules.

 Faqeeh said this week the Kingdom had made substantial progress on its WTO bid since January, adding that there were intensive talks “to arrive at a package of obligations which is balanced and beneficial for the economic needs of Saudi Arabia.”

Source: Arab News©
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